2013 ACS Judge Bios

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    Montserrat Almena-Aliste, PH.D. (Montse)
    Dr. Montserrat Almena-Aliste (Montse) has over 20 years of experience working with cheesemakers and professionals worldwide to improve the quality of artisan cheeses. Her areas of expertise include multiple aspects involved in the quality of cheese: from milk and cheesemaking technology, to composition of the green cheese, ripening and sensory profile of the finished product.

    Montse works closely with the American Cheese Society and other Institutions to support high quality cheeses, and her work has contributed to promote the growth and strength of artisanal cheeses in the US. After over 10 years working at UVM, teaching over 150 cheesemaking workshops and sharing her technical expertise with hundreds of cheesemakers, Dr. Montserrat Almena-Aliste is starting her own cheese consulting company providing a broad range of services and technical expertise (from high quality cheesemaking programs and customized training, to sensory services, QC and R&D assistance).

    Jeffrey A. Babcock
    From travels through Europe and culinary school, Jeff became increasingly interested in the near perfect food: cheese.  With a background in religion and mythology, Jeff was drawn in by the history and lore, the art of its simple and noble origins, but most of all the wondrous flavors; it has become a living journey.  Starting out at the cheese counter at the former Sam’s Wine & Spirits, Jeff soon found a home at European Imports.     

    At European Imports Jeff has been able to work with many cheese-makers across the nation and abroad, bringing exciting new products to chefs and cheese-mongers around the country.  As European Imports expands into Sysco he hopes to replicate that experience in a new and exciting way.

    Ray Bair
    Ray Bair is the owner of Cheese Plus, San Francisco’s premier
 cheese and specialty food store. Ray’s love for food began in his childhood as he foraged for fresh foods on his great-grandmother’s
 farm learning to make fresh pasta, preserves and pastry for the 
family. Those formative years on the farm and in the kitchen made a marked impression upon his palate and imagination, fueling his
 quest for traditional foods and classic flavors. A 30 year veteran
 of the restaurant and specialty grocery industry; Ray has traveled
 extensively throughout the United States and Europe visiting retail 
shops, wineries, dairies and food manufacturing facilities to expand
 his knowledge and appreciation of our collective culinary heritage.

    Robert L. Bradley, PH.D.
    Bob Bradley is a retired Professor Emeritus from the University of Wisconsin.  During his 37 years on the faculty, he held appointments in teaching, research, and extension.  His focus in research was in the general area of mostly dairy technology with an emphasis on product development, ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis, frozen desserts, analytical methods of food analysis, and sensory analysis.  Bob participated in and set up several short courses to train industry employees.

    Lydia Burns
    Nine years ago Lydia Burns stumbled upon a position as a cheese monger at the Bedford cheese shop, working there while between gigs as a professional actor.   Little did she know then that her budding epicurean curiosity once kindled would blossom into a career trajectory driven by an all encompassing passion for cheese and its surrounding culture.   Since those initial mongering days in Brooklyn, Lydia has relocated to Chicago, where during her off time she can escape the city to play on farms and occasionally make cheese too.

    In Chicago she has held a myriad of positions: Cheese and Dairy Manager at Fox & Obel, Market Buyer and Educational Director for Sam’s Wine & Spirits, and she also single handedly designed, developed, & implemented a restaurant wholesale program for the Marion Street Cheese Market.  In between these ventures she also spent some time working on a Biodynamic Farm & Vineyard in New Zealand.  Earlier this summer, Lydia signed on as the Senior Procurement Maven for Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread, & Wine, purchasing for all of their various lines of business.  Lydia is very chatty and loves discussing most things, except her own self, so with her remaining words she would like to make the following dedication:

    In loving memory of Daphne Zepos, my cheerleader in cheese as well as in life; no one person has encouraged, inspired or taught me more than you have.  Your spirit continues to spur me on, and at every juncture I pause, and ponder: “DARling, what would Daphne do?”  I am just a pebble in the sea of your influence, for you truly have roused a generation of cheese professionals in your wake.  I am eternally grateful for all the time I got to share with you, but will always long for a little more…


    MaryAnne Drake
    MaryAnne Drake is a William Neal Reynolds Professor in the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences, Southeast Dairy Foods Research Center, North Carolina State University where she conducts research on the flavor and flavor chemistry of dairy products.  Her research is focused on integrating sensory science with flavor chemistry to understand flavors and flavor sources in dairy products.  MaryAnne has published more than 180 peer-reviewed manuscripts, given over 170 professional presentations and 100 invited industry presentations.  She has judged the World Cheese Championships and the American Cheese Society competitions.  MaryAnne is the Past President of the American Dairy Science Association, the Director of the National Dairy Research Institute Sensory Applications Lab and the Director of the North Carolina State University Sensory Services Center.

    Gordon Edgar
    Gordon Edgar loves cheese and worker-owned cooperatives, and has been combining both of these infatuations as a cheesemonger at Rainbow Grocery Cooperative in San Francisco since 1994. Edgar has been a judge at national cheese competitions, a board member for the California Artisan Cheese Guild, and, since 2002, blogged at www.gordonzola.net. His cheese memoir, Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge was published in 2010 by Chelsea Green.

    Nana Y. Farkye, Ph.D.
    Dr. Nana Farkye graduated from the University of Ghana in 1980 with a Bachelor’s degree (with honors) in Biochemistry and Nutrition.  Then, he received is M.S. and Ph.D. in Food Sciences and Nutrition from Utah State University in 1985 and 1986, respectively. Dr. Farkye is currently a Professor of Dairy Science at California Polytechnic State University where he has been since 1990.  Prior to joining Cal Poly, he worked at the University College Cork, in Ireland.  Dr. Farkye’s research interests are in dairy chemistry and cheese technology.  He has several published articles and books chapters on various aspects of cheese and dairy foods and holds U.S. and international patents on no-melt cheese technologies.  He teaches courses in dairy chemistry and cheese and fermented milk foods.  Dr. Farkye has been a judge previous judge several cheese contests, including American Cheese Society cheese contest, U.S. Championship Cheese Contest and World Championship Cheese Contest. Dr. Farkye has also offered his expertise as a consultant to dairy products manufacturers in the U.S. and abroad.

    Janet Fletcher
    Janet Fletcher is the author or co-author of more than two dozen books on food, beer and wine, including Cheese & Beer, Cheese & Wine and The Cheese Course. She writes a weekly cheese column for the San Francisco Chronicle and the “Cheese Focus” column for Specialty Food magazine. She is the recipient of three James Beard Awards and the IACP Bert Greene Award. Her writing on wine and food has appeared in numerous national magazines, including Saveur, Bon Appétit, Fine Cooking and Food & Wine. She teaches cooking and cheese-appreciation classes around the country.

    Cathy Gaffney
    Cathy is the Director of the Specialty Cheese, Deli, and Kosher Deli Departments at Wegmans Food Markets, headquartered in Rochester, NY.  In her role, Cathy provides vision for these areas of the company and travels extensively to find new products and concepts to grow these unique businesses.  Wegmans is a family owned, 81-store supermarket chain with stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Massachusetts.  In her 20 years with the progressive food store, Cathy has held numerous positions in both the Store Operations environment and at corporate.  Cathy grew up on a 700-acre dairy farm in Lima, NY, showed and marketed Registered Holsteins, and was an avid 4-H member.  She is a 1989 graduate of Cornell University with a degree in Applied Economics and Business Management.  She resides in Rush, NY with her husband John and daughter Mary.

    Debbie Harris
    Debbie Harris moved to Portland from rural Oregon, where Velveeta and American cheese slices were the extent of the family cheese selection. After several years in restaurant management she happened upon the world of specialty cheese in the late 90’s at the well-loved, Portland, Oregon grocery chain Nature’s Fresh NW.

    Debbie has spent the majority of her career in cheese at New Seasons Market, a string of Portland, OR-based grocery stores. New Seasons Market sells more than 700 varieties of cheese, from esoteric imports to tiny American artisan selections. New Seasons is proud to help support a vast number of local NW cheese makers, and is dedicated to nurturing the knowledge and friendliness of the cheese staff to pass on their passion to their loyal customers. Debbie began her New Seasons career in 2000, as the company’s lone cheese manager at the first location. She now runs the entire cheese program for New Seasons’ 13 stores, seeking out fine and unique cheeses for customers to learn about, taste, take home, and share.

    Kirsten Hindes
    Kirsten Hindes’ love affair with cheese began in 1983 when she began working at the still thriving Gourmet Shop in Columbia, SC.  According to her mother, she went down to the shop every day after school until she was hired!  After graduating from the University of Georgia, Kirsten received an AOS degree from New England Culinary Institute and spent time working in some of the top kitchens in Washington, DC.  That was where she reignited her former passion for working with cheese; trading toque and sauté pan for trier and wire at a local Whole Foods Market in 2000.  She quickly worked her way up, opening the flagship P Street Store for which she received All Star status.  Her career with WFM led her from DC to San Francisco as a merchandiser, to the coordinator role in the South and Northeast Regions.  After a brief stint in the coffee world, Kirsten spent several years working for a Dutch cheese importer in San Francisco before finally settling down back in the southland. Kirsten has been working for Atlanta Foods International since 2011, and happily sells the cheeses she loves and shares her passion and knowledge every day.  She is part of the inaugural class of ACS Certified Cheese Professionals.

    Laura Jacobs-Welch

    Laura Jacobs-Welch grew up in Colorado. However a move to Wisconsin, a marriage to a dairy farmer, and a 4-h dairy goat project gone crazy, brought her into contact with cheesemaker members of the American Dairy Goat Products Association, which led into the administrative executive position with ACS in 1997.  When the organization grew to the point that the Board of Directors felt it was time for a management firm, she decided to complete her college degree (30 years delayed), finishing with a Bachelor of Science in Public Communications and Business Administration. She now works at Brick Street Market. After serving on the administrative side of ACS’ Judging & Competition; she is excited to be a judge!

    John Jaeggi
    John is a third generation licensed Wisconsin cheese maker who began his career over 35 years ago with the family cheese factory in Green County, WI. He has worked for a number of years at the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research where he is coordinator of the CDR Cheese Industry and Applications Program. This program is actively involved in all aspects of the cheese industry involving working with suppliers, manufacturers, converters, retailers, marketers, brokers, and end users of all cheese varieties.

    John has served as a technical judge for the World Championship Cheese Contest, United States Championship Cheese Contest, Wisconsin Dairy Products Association Contest, Wisconsin State Fair, and the American Cheese Society Annual Judging and Competition.

    Luis A. Jimenez-Maroto
    Luis is a Food Engineer from the Monterrey Institute of Technology in Mexico, where his work as an intern in the Dairy Processing Lab seeded his fascination for cheese. He followed this fascination to the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where he obtained a Master’s degree in Food Science working on the composition, functionality, and sensory profiles of Hispanic cheeses. Luis then worked as a Sensory Scientist for PepsiCo International Mexico, while at the same time teaching at the Monterrey Institute of Technology as an Adjunct Professor. But the allure of cheese is hard to ignore, and when the opportunity to come back to work in America’s Dairyland presented itself, he seized it. Nowadays, Luis is the Sensory Coordinator for both the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, and the Food Science Department of the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where he works in both academic and industry-based research related to sensory science, and is involved in several short courses, including the Wisconsin Cheese Tech Short Course, Cheese Grading, The World of Cheese, and Milk Pasteurization. Luis has previously judged at the World Championship Cheese Contest in 2008 and 2012.

    Steve Jones
    Steve Jones is a cheesemonger, educator, and cheese ambassador. Steve began his cheesemongering career nearly 20 years ago, opening several cheese counters in the Midwest. Steve has served multiple times as a judge for the ACS annual competitions, as well as the American Dairy Goat Association. He has volunteered as a panel member and presenter on many occasions for the ACS annual conference and other organizations/events, including the Oregon Cheese Guild, International Association of Culinary Professionals, World Food Travel Association’s Foodworx conference, Bon Appetit’s Feast Portland, Oregon Pinot Camp, International Pinot Noir Celebration, Foods of Oregon Symposium, and Slow Food Portland. In 2011, Steve competed with 40 cheesemongers from around the world to win the 2nd Annual Cheesemonger Invitational in Long Island, New York. Steve has appeared in local and national media outlets, including Portland’s Live Wire radio show and National Public Radio’s The Splendid Table.


    Emiliano Lee
    Coming from a long line of grocers, Emiliano Lee’s passion for cheese dates back to his childhood in Oakland, where he could be found stealing bites of Brie from the wheel in his father’s desk drawer and spending his allowance at the Creighton’s old 6th Avenue Cheese Shop in San Francisco.

    Though he first worked the counter in the late 1990’s in Oakland, it wasn’t until 2007 at the age of 32 when Emiliano relocated to Salt Lake City, Utah that he established himself as a cheese monger first at Harmon’s Brickyard, and later as Cheese and Charcuterie Manager at Liberty Heights Fresh, where he was able to expand and share his knowledge of domestic and foreign cheeses, charcuterie and other accompaniments. During this time, Emiliano made certain to constantly hone his craft – from consulting with cheese makers in Utah and Idaho, to assisting in cheese making at local creameries, as well as a brief immersion working the arches and counter across the pond at Neal’s Yard Dairy in London.

    Having founded the retail program for Farmshop in Santa Monica’s Brentwood Country Mart, Emiliano has built a focused cheese program around the vast bounty of artisan cheeses being produced in California and beyond (with all but one domestic offering). Similarly, as you traipse through the cases and shelves of charcuterie, produce, and specialty foods you will see similar representation capturing the philosophy behind Farmshop itself, showcasing seasonality through the foods crafted by regional artisans and positioning them as well alongside cheeses and in dishes on Farmshop’s menus.

    Since 2009, Emiliano has served as a judge for the American Cheese Society, affording him the opportunity to taste thousands of cheeses from hundreds of North American producers, and provide them with valuable feedback.  Additionally, he participated in the inaugural 2010 Cheese Monger Invitational, served as a panelist at the 2011 Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference, and was a panel moderator at the 2011 ACS Conference in Montreal. Emiliano was also a SOFI finalists judge for the Specialty Food Association in 2013.

    David Lockwood
    David Lockwood began selling cheese at Zingerman’s Deli in 1986. Since 1991 he has worked with Neal’s Yard Dairy: managing the shops, opening up the US market, selecting, buying, maturing and allocating cheese. Currently he is the managing director of Neal’s Yard Dairy and a partner in the business.

    Sarah Masoni
    Sarah Masoni is the Product and Process Development Manager for Oregon State University Food Innovation Center located in Portland Oregon. Sarah Masoni has worked more than 20 years in the food industry in Quality Assurance, Manufacturing, and Product Development. While attending Oregon State University she trained under Floyd Bodyfelt and competed in the 1985 International Dairy Product s Judging Competition in Atlanta, placing 1st in Butter and Ice Cream and 2nd in Cottage Cheese.  Sarah was the number 3 judge over-all competing with 28 different Universities. Sarah worked in a cheese shop in the 1980’s that had over 200 cheeses, she also made semi-soft surface ripened cheeses while working at a small cheese factory in Tillamook Oregon. Sarah has also worked as a USDA inspector for the Cheese program. Sarah has been an executive board member for the Oregon Dairy Industries, and continues to participate in the ODI.  Sarah Masoni traveled with her father and family through Europe in 1974 visiting farmstead cheese facilities and learning a great deal from her dad, Edmund A. Zottola, Professor Emeritus, U of MN, who started the Minnesota Farmstead Cheese Program in 1975. Sarah Masoni graduated from Oregon State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree.

    Max McCalman
    Max McCalman is America’s first restaurant-based Maître Fromager, and Garde et Jure as designated by France’s Guilde des Fromagers.  McCalman, a veteran of the food and hospitality industries, spent most of his professional life as a Maître d’ Hotel and Sommelier.  He joined New York City-based restaurant Picholine in 1994 where, as Maître d’Hotel, he became a dedicated scholar of cheese and created that restaurant’s fabled cheese program with Chef-Proprietor Terrance Brennan.

    McCalman later established the critically acclaimed cheese programs at Artisanal Brasserie & Fromagerie restaurant, followed by the Artisanal Cheese Center, both in New York City.  Picholine, Artisanal Brasserie and the Artisanal Premium Cheese Center created on-site “caves” to nurture cheeses to their peak stages of ripeness.

    McCalman is a contributor to the leading cheese publications in the U.S.: Cheese Connoisseur and Culture magazines. He has made appearances on the Television Food Network, the CBS Evening News, the Cable News Network, and the Daily Show, and has been featured on numerous radio programs.  He has been featured in many publications ranging from the New York Times to the Wine Spectator and Food & Wine magazines. He is a frequent judge in cheese competitions both in the U.S. and Europe. McCalman is a founding member of the American Cheese Society’s Certified Cheese Professional committee.

    Virgil Metzer
    Virgil Metzger is a Cheese and Dairy Consultant since retiring from Kraft Foods after 41 years where his last position was a Research Principal of Cheese and Dairy R&D. As a Cheese and Dairy Consultant, Virg is doing work with Cheese Grading, Process Cheese Process and Product design, Dairy Ingredients, and Supply Chain. In addition to his technical work, Virg enjoys working as a Cheese judge for the National Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation contest, the US and World Cheese Championship Contests. He received a B.S. and M.S. in Dairy Science from South Dakota State University in 1969 and 1971. Virgil lives in Vernon Hills, IL with his wife Mary and has three children, two boys and one girl. He enjoys spending quality time with their four grandchildren, gardening, yard work, fishing, and traveling.

    Gina L. Mode
    Gina’s love of the dairy industry began when she was raised on a fifth generation family dairy farm outside Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.  She went on to earn a Bachelor of Science Degree in Food Science and a Master of Business Administration Degree in addition to Wisconsin Buttermaker and Cheesemaker Licenses.  Gina became interested in cheese while completing an internship with the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research in 1990.  She worked in Quality Assurance at the Swiss Colony in Monroe, Wisconsin and the Babcock Hall Dairy Plant at the University of Wisconsin – Madison before returning to the CDR in 2005.  As a member of the Cheese Industry and Applications Group at CDR, Gina works closely with cheese brokers, ingredient suppliers, and manufacturers – from farmstead to commercial.  She is involved with everything from cheese trials and troubleshooting to short courses and outreach efforts.  Gina particularly enjoys working with cheesemakers to develop new specialty cheeses.  She has served as a technical judge for the American Cheese Society, North American Jersey Cheese Awards, and World Dairy Expo Championship Dairy Product Contest.

    Shelli Morton
    Cheese, most unexpectedly, got under Shelli’s skin 32 years ago while working a retail counter in NYC, and has guided her adult life. She has since worked in the import/distribution world for Crystal Food Import and presently for WB Cheese, discovering and selling cheeses from around the world that have transfigured the industry. Very happy work indeed!

    She is thankful to have discovered ACS, a community where she can unabashedly acknowledge how much time cheese consumes her thoughts and passions. She currently resides in Boston, MA with her husband and two children.




    George Patocka
    Dr. George Patocka is a Dairy Specialist in Alberta Dairy Research Unit at the Dept. of Agricultural, Food, and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Canada. He attended the Czech Technical University for his undergraduate work in Food Engineering, and earned his doctorate in Food Science at the University of Alberta. He is highly skilled in all aspects of industrial dairy processing. His research focuses on processing and technological or physiological functionality of whey and the main whey components lactose and whey protein, has resulted in numerous publications, book chapters and conference presentations.

    As a professional member of the American Dairy Science Association he served as a Chair of the Committee on Sensory Evaluation of Dairy Products. He is a past Chair (2012) of Dairy Foods Division of the Institute of Food Technologists. His direct involvement in cheese evaluation includes his 17 years of coaching of the University of Alberta Dairy Judging Team. Currently he is a Board member of the Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Contest (CDPEC).

    Patty Peterson
    Patty grew up in the specialty food business. Her father, Larry, purchased a corner store that delivered groceries to Milwaukee’s elite in 1970. Within a year, he started bringing specialty foods to Wisconsin and became a leader in selling then unknown products at the store — Larry’s Market was the first to sell brie, Perrier and croissants in the state of Wisconsin. Over the years, Larry’s has evolved from a focus on imported products to local, handmade products, specializing in Wisconsin artisan and farmstead cheeses.  Today Larry’s Market is owned by Patty’s brother, Steve, and employs 25 full- and part-timers, has a retail store, cut-to-order cheese counter, deli and small cafe, catering division, and a gift department.

    A dedicated member of ACS since 2003, she has attended every conference and was  co-chair of six Festivals of Cheese. Patty is honored to be selected as a judge this year and particularly thrilled that it’s happening in her home state.


    Scott Rankin
    Dr. Rankin is Professor and Chair of the Food Science Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Originally from La Habra, CA, Scott A. Rankin earned degrees in Food Science from Brigham Young University (BS ’91, MS ’92) and Oregon State University (PhD, ’96). He leads numerous outreach programs in dairy foods manufacturing, covering such topics as milk pasteurization, dairy chemistry, ice cream, and cheese grading while conducting research focusing on the flavor and color of dairy foods.  Dr. Rankin is the recipient of the 2004 ADSA Foundation Scholar award and the 2006 ADSA Food Specialties award. He has been a judge at the World and US Championship Cheese contests as well as at the American Cheese Society cheese competition. He a member of the American Dairy Science Association, the Institute of Food Technologists and the American Chemical Society. He is married to Teresa Hendrickson, has six children, and lives in Cross Plains, WI.

    Jeanne Rodier
    A passionate gastronome and avid cheeselover, Jeanne Rodier worked as a professional chemical engineer until 2002. Looking to further her knowledge about all things related to cheese, she completed a “Certificat de Spécialisation en Fromagerie Internationale” in 2003 at the ENILBIO in Poligny France.

    As part of this certificate, an internship at the “Coopérative laitière d’Isigny Ste-Mère” produced a memoire about Mimolette fabrication. While working as a cheesemonger, she continued to perfect her training by attending a sensorial evaluation class offered by the “Société des fromages du Québec” in 2005 and by participating in the cheese tasting club of the SFQ. Employed at Yannick Fromagerie since 2007, Ms Rodier actively participates in developing the Quebec cheese community by working with both consumers and producers. Ms. Rodier has been a member of the jury at the Selection Caseus, Québec Fine Cheese Competition since June 2009.

    Matt Rubiner
    Matthew Rubiner is the owner of Rubiner’s Cheesemongers & Grocers and rubi’s café in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.  He became a cheesemonger in 1994 after a career in military policy analysis at MIT and in the service of defense contractors and government agencies, including SAIC, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Defense.  His writings on cheese have appeared in Culture Magazine and The American.  He has served on the American Cheese Society Board of Directors and appeared on numerous ACS panels.  This is his 6th time judging the ACS national competitions.   In 2010 he won the inaugural National Cheesemongers Invitational.


    Helder dos Santos
    Helder dos Santos has been in the food business his entire life.  As a child and teenager he ate many exotic foods and cheeses, first in Portugal and then in America.  In his early twenties he worked at Ambria (a four star restaurant that has since closed) in Chicago, witnessed some great culinary creations and many satisfied customers enjoying them.  He then worked for a small distributor, providing some of the great restaurants and caterers with many of the key ingredients, including cheese.

    In 1990 he went to work for Zuercher & Co., then in Chicago and now located in Skokie, IL.  As Sales Manager, he oversees distribution of great domestic and imported cheeses to many specialty food stores, upscale chains and foodservice distributors throughout the Midwest.  In 2012, he was inducted into the Guilde des Fromagers.  He is hopefully selling more cheese than he eats as he basically eats cheese every chance that he gets.

    Brandon Schilling
    Brandon Schilling has worked in the cheese industry for five years. In that time he has learned from leading cheesemakers and cheesemongers from around the country and world. He has visited artisan producers to learn first-hand about the cheese making process.

    Brandon has designed and taught classes on the history of cheese, cheese & wine paring, cheese & beer pairing, and cheese & entertaining. In 2012 Brandon was 1 of 144 people to pass the inaugural Certified Cheese Professional Exam by the American Cheese Society. The CCPE encompasses a broad range of topics including raw ingredients, the cheesemaking process, storing and handling cheese, selecting distributors, marketing and communicating about cheese, nutrition, regulations and sanitation.

    Russell Smith
    For the past 20 years, Russell has been involved at the consumer end of the cheese industry. As a retailer and distributor in Canberra, he forged a reputation as an advocate for the Australian cheese industry. He is passionate about cheese and the industry.

    Russell is a qualified cheese maker who consults to cheese makers in Australia and New Zealand.  He has been judging dairy products in the major competitions in Australia since 1998. He is the chief judge for the Royal Sydney, Royal Queensland and Royal Perth Cheese and Dairy Shows. He is also the master judge for the New Zealand Cheese Awards.

    He continues his work in cheese education for the restaurant industry with an Australia-wide program of cheese sensory workshops for chefs.  In 2013, Dairy Australia will publish his training manuals for cheese and dairy judges, as well as one for chefs.  In 2010, he started a school’s cheese making program for science teachers/students which was organised by the Royal Brisbane Show and has proved such a success that Dairy Australia has funded the program which will be Australia-wide in 2013.  In 2012, this program was awarded the Peter Doherty Award for innovation in science education by the Queensland government.

    Marianne Smukowski
    Marianne Smukowski is a graduate of UW-Madison with a degree in Foods Science.  Marianne worked for the USDA-Dairy Division for nine years.    Marianne then joined Land O’ Lakes as a QC specialist for five years.  Marianne’s current position is Dairy Safety/Quality Applications Coordinator for the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research.  In this position she assists dairy manufacturers in the following areas:  safety/quality audits, third party audits, recall issues, GMP reviews, and developing HACCP plans.   She has judged dairy products for numerous contests throughout her career. She coordinates the WI Master Cheesemaker program and provides technical support in regulatory matters.



    W.L. “Bill” Wendorf
    Dr. Wendorff graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.S. in Dairy Industry and a Ph.D. in Food Science.  After serving 20 years as a technical director in the food industry, he joined the Department of Food Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as the Extension Dairy Manufacturing Specialist and worked primarily with the cheese and whey industries.  He was the coordinator for the various dairy manufacturing short courses at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has served as a judge in various national and state cheese contests.  He served as Chair of the Food Science Department at UW-Madison from 2001-2006.  His research activities centered on quality and environmental concerns of the dairy industry and development of sheep milk cheeses.  (He was a member of Amer. Dairy Sci. Assn., Int. Assn. Food Prot., Inst. Food Tech. and is still a member of the American Cheese Society.)  In July 2008, he retired after 19 years at UW-Madison and was granted Emeritus Professor status.  He currently serves as a consultant to the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research where he coordinates the grading program that assesses the cheeses of the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker candidates.

    Dr. Steve Zeng
    Dr. Steve Zeng is a Dairy Product Specialist and Chairman of Department of Agriculture & Natural Resources at Langston University, Oklahoma. His expertise is in dairy product processing, particularly in goat milk and cheese. With his industrial and academic experiences, he has conducted many cheesemaking workshops/schools in the U.S. as well as in Argentina, Armenia, China and the Republic of Georgia, and judged the ACS Cheese Contest, the United States Cheese Championship and the World Cheese Championship since 2007.